Past Exhibitions

Ushaw has hosted many fantastic exhibitions over the years. Inevitably each exhibition must move on, but this page should serve as a reminder for any you may have missed or simply wish to look back on:

Life at the College

This exhibition walked us through the daily life of students at the college. A fascinating insight to the way these young boys lived. 

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Joe Tasker - Savage Arena

This exhibition told the story of the life of former Ushaw student and world famous mountaineer, Joe Tasker.  The exhibition contained many of Joe's personal photographs and possessions and also told his story through film.

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Ushaw had the privilege of housing some of the famous Canaletto paintings, created by an unknown student of the great artist, whilst they underwent cleaning and consolidation. Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto, was an Italian painter of city views or vedute, of Venice. He also painted imaginary views (referred to as capricci), although the demarcation in his works between the real and the imaginary is never quite clear cut. Some of the finest artwork in the world, he had some of the most dedicated and skilled students in the world. Ushaw was proud to house one such students creations, and is honoured to have been a part of their story.

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Science at Ushaw

Ushaw College, throughout its history, has been a strong proponent of the study and development of science in its many forms. Despite the clear boundaries between science and theology, the study of science was an important part of life in the seminary, and the men training here had a well rounded understanding of the natural world and the science behind it. This exhibition examined the study of science at Ushaw, as well as the items used to aid the men in understanding their world. 

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Alan O'Cain - Sentence

Alan O’Cain’s eye-opening exhibition followed the harrowing story of an un-named man who, following the financial troubles in 2008 America, pled guilty to securities fraud and was sentenced to imprisonment in one of America’s toughest detainment facilities.

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Fay Pomerance

In association with Durham University, Ushaw proudly presented Redemption, an exhibition of little seen work by British Jewish artists, Fay Pomerance (1912 - 2001).

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Chuck Close Tapestries

Chuck Close Tapestries was the first exhibition of contemporary art to be displayed in the ornately designed St Cuthbert’s Chapel at Ushaw. The dramatic juxtaposition of the monumental, monochrome portraits against the richly coloured, high Gothic architecture is intended to encourage visitors to look at the space in a different way, reflecting on the changing history of Ushaw.

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Secret Faith

Ushaw housed an exhibition displaying items and stories of those Catholics who were persecuted and oppressed by the times in which they lives. Those who practised their faith in secret left behind objects and tales of their lives that we, an organisation that used to prepare young men for priesthood in the Catholic faith, were proud to display. 

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Faith in Exile

In 1568, the small textile town of Douai in Northern France was transformed into a hub of intrigue and rebellion. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the Catholic religion was outlawed and harbouring a Catholic Priest was made punishable by death. As a result, English Catholics had to practice their faith in secret, with many fleeing to the safety of Catholic Europe. This included William Allen, a former member of Queen Mary I government and later Cardinal in the Catholic Church. Allen wanted to make sure the Catholic faith was kept alive in England and therefore established Douai College as a school and seminary for English Catholics.

Douai College became a centre for plots against the Tudor and Stuart governments and sent numerous missionaries secretly back to England with many becoming martyrs to the cause. During the French Revolution, war with England led to the students being forced to leave the College in fear of their lives.  By the 18th century laws against Catholicism started to relax in England which meant the student body could return and subsequently establish Ushaw College in the North and St. Edmund’s Ware in the South.

This exhibition was the first to be displayed in the newly rededicated William Allen Gallery. Some of the silver was then moved to the chapels, while the rest returned to other collections.

The Chris Younger Photography Exhibition 'Ambiguity and Uncertainty in the Deerness Valley' started 19th April 2018, end time currently to be confirmed. Images will be on display along the corridor leading between the gallery and the refectory, with some prints available in our gift shop. 

Tomoaki Suzuki 

July 5th - September 15th 2018

Following on from the success of Chuck Close tapestries shown in St Cuthbert’s Chapel during summer 2017, we installed another contemporary art exhibition featuring figurative work – populating the spaces of Ushaw with adverse group of figures. In a modern twist on the tradition of Japanese woodcarving, Tomoaki Suzuki sculpts small wooden and bronze portraits of human subjects, each some 20 inches high or so, with a remarkable sense of psychological presence. A London resident, Suzuki finds subjects in his Hackney neighbourhood; he works with his models in front of him, sketching and photographing them in detail before embarking on the two-to-three-month process of carving, sculpting, and painting each figure in acrylics. The sculptures typically depict diverse urban youths in natural postures, their personal dress styles expressive of their identities.

There were eight wooden sculptures displayed in the William Allen Gallery, four relief portrait panels in the foyer area in front of the gallery and five bronze sculptures in the quadrangle. The separation of the figures and the sense of isolation between them was an essential element of the artist’s intentions and encouraged viewers to think about loneliness and solitude. “We are born alone. We die alone. So I install my sculptures as isolated individuals”.

The Works of Frank Henry Mason

An exhibition of around 40 paintings by Frank Henry Mason (October 1875 - February 1965), an artist best known for his maritime, shipping, coastal and harbour paintings. He was also a creator of art deco travel and railway posters and a founder member of the Staithes Art Club whose members are known today as the Staithes Group Artists, or the Northern Impressionists. The exhibition, in the William Allen Gallery, also featured Ushaw's own painting HM River Clyde landing troops. 

This exhibition ran from 22nd September - 10th November 2018. 

Captain Pugwash

'AHOY ME HEARTIES!' A merry and colourful display of posters that dropped guests into the world of John Ryan's Captain Pugwash books and TV films: treasure maps, sea monsters, sea battles, and Pugwash's arch enemy, the wicked Cut-Throat Jake!

This exhibition was displayed along the Refectory corridor, with merchandise available in the gift shop.

Sink or Swim? Catholicism in Sixties Britain through John Ryan's cartoons 

An exhibition curated by historian Dr Alana Harris and Isabel Ryan portraying the tumultuous history of the Church in the 1960s, as depicted by the Catholic Herald’s weekly cartoonist John Ryan. This exhibition was in the Pontop Room.

Image (left): ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ artwork by John Ryan originally produced for Michael Davies’ book The Church Since Vatican II (1985)

North East Musicians

A photography exhibition by Durham Photographic Society, depicting celebrated musicians from the North East or who perform regularly in the North East. 

These musicians include Kathryn Tickell, Zoe Gilby, Folkworks, Martin Longstaff and Paul Edis. 

This exhibition was on display at Ushaw from 18th January 2019 to 23rd March 2019.

Hand in Hand

Eileen Grace Welch entered the Benedictine Stanbrook Abbey in 1915 at the age of twenty, receiving the name of Werburg. Before entering Stanbrook she had trained at Bournemouth and Bristol Art School’s and on taking religious vows she was encouraged to continue her artistic career becoming known for her vestment designs, paintings and carvings. Having corresponded with Eric Gill and Desmond Chute her artistic style reflected the popular art-deco movement of the early 20th century. Often cited anonymously ‘A Benedictine of Stanbrook’, this exhibition revealed the life and work of a truly hidden talent of our nation and included textiles, paintings, wood carvings and prints.

This exhibition ran from 5th April 2019 to 3rd September 2019.

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